White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Tuesday morning found himself in a fiery exchange on CNN as he repeatedly dodged questions regarding President Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in public.
Last week, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence wouldn’t commit to issuing a nationwide mask mandate even after finally encouraging the public to adopt the practice. Masks are a key way to slow the spread of COVID-19 amid rising cases across the country. Trump has yet to wear a mask in public and the White House continues to defer to local officials on the matter.
When asked by CNN’s John Berman whether he personally wears a mask, Navarro said that he does so in situations where he can’t practice social distancing.
Navarro was then pressed on whether it would make a difference if the President pushed for mask wearing more aggressively and visually.
“I can’t speculate on that,” Navarro said. “I think that it’s clear now that the President and the Vice President strongly support the use of masks and social distancing.”
Navarro added that “there’s nothing more to squeeze from that orange.”
The Trump official was asked again if it would help the country if the President did more to encourage mask wearing.
Navarro responded by accusing the media of beating “that one to death.” The White House trade adviser then sarcastically remarked that Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in public has become “a meme for CNN now.”
When Berman attempted to jumped in and ask whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who has urged the public twice in the past week to wear masks — “beat it to death,” Navarro didn’t answer the question and continued focusing on the President instead.
“What’s the point? Everyone who gets near him has been tested and nobody gets within six feet of him,” Navarro said.
After Berman tried one last time to ask if a White House effort to emphasize the importance of mask wearing would make a difference, Navarro said “you can keep asking it, and I’m not going to go there.”
Watch Navarro’s remarks below:
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Trump's refusal to wear a mask in public: "Nothing more to squeeze from that orange" pic.twitter.com/dXNQFSUQ8Y
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) July 7, 2020